Laying Chalk And Taking Dogs: A Gambler's Look At UFC 114, Jackson vs. Evans

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Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Rashad Evans

The fight is basically a pick 'em with odds either at either -115 or -105 for both men on most major sites. If you gave me the choice of either man when they're fully healthy, have had full training camps and are both not battling ring rust I'd pick Rampage with ease.  He's more battle tested, it'd be unlikely that Rashad could outwrestle him, they've both got power and good chins.  The only clear advantage for Evans is in the speed department.

That being said, this isn't a case of two men coming in in the same situation.  While the notoriously hard working Evans has taken a fight with Thiago Silva and kept at it in the gym, Rampage has been off filming The A-Team, fighting with UFC president Dana White and discussing how he would quit fighting if he had his way. Rampage admitted that he was rusty against Keith Jardine and that he'll likely head into this fight rusty as well.  When you combine those factors it starts to look like this might be Rashad's fight to lose.

The thing I really hate to see a rusty fighter have to deal with is speed.  As Jackson is trying to get his legs under him Rashad will be moving in and out, hitting and getting away.  As the fight wears on I trust Rashad's conditioning to be better as well.  So in my mind Rashad is going to win early with speed over rust and win late with better cardio.

I like a play on Evans at -135 or better.

Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller

I see the best value on the card here.  Miller was beat on the feet by Demian Maia, and say what you want about Bisping's striking but his technical boxing, feints and footwork are all much better than Maia.  Miller also had a lot of trouble dealing with the wrestling of Chael Sonnen.  Now, Bisping is not quite the wrestler that Sonnen is but he does have very underrated takedowns and is much more violent in his application of ground and pound than Sonnen.

Given Bisping's solid submission defense and advantage in the wrestling and striking departments I'm shocked to see that you can get him as low as -160.  I love Bisping in this fight at anything up to and including -230.

Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway

Hathaway is a nice fighter with a bright future, but when you run down the resume of Sanchez you notice that he has been competing at a very high level for several years now and the only fighters he has lost to are Josh Koscheck, BJ Penn and Jon Fitch.  Those are all top five talents.  Whereas Hathaway is a prospect, Sanchez is a proven product.

Bloody Elbow's Leland Rolling echos my thoughts on his fight preview:

Hathaway does have some opportunities on the ground as his grappling acumen does give him the chances to reverse Diego's positions. Against Story, he was able to stave off the early onslaught of slams and takedowns to ultimately reverse Story's position. Fortunately for Hathaway, his striking was good enough to out punch Story in the second round to tire him out and win the third in dominating fashion. It'll probably be a different circumstance in this showdown.

Hathaway's strength of record is also an issue as he's fought mainly British fighters in an era in which Britain's mixed martial arts scene was relatively small. These days, they've begun to build a solid foundation of good camps and trainers, but the competition Hathaway faced didn't seem to be within the elite in Britain. He's had the advantages of training in the States with American Top Team and Eddie Bravo, but I'm not exactly sure that's going to spell success against a buzzsaw like Sanchez.

If Hathaway can strike well enough to tire Sanchez, I'd give him a good chance to gain top control and damage Sanchez. The problem, however, is that Sanchez isn't going to tire unless he's absolutely demolished on the feet. I don't see that quite happening here. Sanchez should be able to takedown Hathaway and put the grind on him on his way to a decision victory here.

Hathaway is likely to have much trouble dealing with the diverse game of Sanchez who can strike, wrestle and grapple with most anyone and has an unbelievable pace and cardio.  Given the experience difference as well as the variety of tools at his disposal I really like him at the current -200 to -225 line that is out there.  If you can get on Diego at those numbers, do it.

Amir Sadollah vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Kim is undefeated in 14 career fights having pickied up 12 wins, a draw and a no contest.  Sadollah has only been in four pro fights picking up a 3-1 record with the lone loss at UFC 101 when caught early by Johny Hendricks. The real concern here for Kim is that he hasn't been able to show reliable levels of dominance against higher level competition.  Sadollah has been improving steadily including spending considerable time working on his striking game.

Kim is a significant step up in competition for Amir following two bouts with men who tend to gas fairly early in fights in Phil Baroni and Brad Blackburn.  I actually think this might be just a little bit more than Amir can handle given that Kim can use his judo if he doesn't like the distance when Amir tries to engage the clinch and work his muay thai game.

At +120 there is some value on Kim.  I wouldn't really be interested at anything worse than +105 but if things get any better for him it's worth a play.

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